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Survey finds change in approach to treasury KPIs required

Nordea last reported on treasury KPIs in 2016. Back then, over three-quarters of respondents had established treasury KPIs and the majority said that treasury KPIs had improved treasury effectiveness. The research discovered a gap between the treasury's objectives and those of the business. Many treasuries were not actively measuring stakeholder satisfaction with their performance. A significant proportion said that KPI outcomes never affected treasury staff compensation. 

Nordea's 2019 Treasury KPI report reveals that treasuries are embracing KPIs, and the business is paying attention to the outcomes. But just like in 2016, treasuries are not using KPIs to evaluate their own performance or for benchmarking towards peers despite the accelerating pace of digitisation. Many treasuries also have a short-term focus. Increasingly lean and streamlined, they are often focused on mission-critical priorities like liquidity and funding.

Operational KPIs and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are falling down the agenda, and hardly any treasuries have implemented KPIs related to their digitisation goals. If they can balance their immediate priorities with these more long-term goals, treasuries will be more prepared for the future.

Treasuries are embracing KPIs...

77% of those treasuries surveyed have established KPIs. 46% of those use specific KPIs to track treasury performance, up from 27% in 2016. 90% of treasuries say that their KPIs are at least partially linked to the company's goals but only 15% say their KPIs are "directly derived" from the company's strategic goals, a slight decrease from 2016. Given the treasury's ambition to become a more strategic player, this figure would be expected to rise rather than fall. The treasury does have the attention of business leaders. The board is more likely to set the treasury's KPIs (32%), followed by the CFO (28%) and then the treasury itself (19%).

... but they're not seeking feedback

Only 35% or treasurers polled regularly measure stakeholder satisfaction with the treasury - down from 40% in 2016. Only 7% said that KPIs are used to benchmark the treasury against its peers, even though benchmarking can provide valuable insights and help to drive strategy. The most common reported use of KPIs was to support risk management within the group (68%). In 2016, risk management came second in this category, when the most common purpose of KPIs was found to be ensuring alignment with the goals of the company.

A short-term focus

Treasuries are focussed on the same top three core objectives as they were in Nordea's 2016 edition of the survey - liquidity (83%), FX risk management (76%), and funding (75%). Behind that, interest rate risk management climbed up to 69%, having been on 64% three years ago.

The use of KPIs in the operational side of treasury has fallen since 2016, however. Just 13% of treasurers say that they have KPIs for operational efficiency and control. This has slumped, having been at 64% in the 2016 survey. Also, only three out of every ten treasurers (30%) say that they have KPIs for working capital management, down from 52% in the previous poll.

KPIs for digitisation are lacking

An overwhelming majority of treasurers (94%) do not have defined KPIs when it comes to measuring success in digitisation. Possible areas for digitisation in the short-term were identified by treasurers as treasury reporting (53%) and FX exposure (51%). Looking to the long-term, and treasury reporting topped the poll again, cited by just over one-third (36%) of treasuries. 

The bank says that this year’s research has revealed some positive shifts, but also hints of inertia. In many ways, it’s good news - treasuries are firming up their goals and pursuing more specific KPIs. They’re getting attention from the board and senior leadership, paving the way for them to exert more influence. But problems from previous years have persisted. There’s still a gap between the treasury’s goals and those of the
wider business. The fact remains that change is needed. The full Treasury KPIs 2019 Report is available from Nordea Insights.


More than 160 Nordic and international corporates participated in the 2019 Treasury KPIs survey. Respondents were primarily across Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway and were representative of a wide range of industry sectors. Over 60% of the large corporates surveyed had an annual turnover greater than €1bn, with almost 9% of respondents coming from smaller large corporates with a turnover of less than €250m.

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Cash Flow Management & Forecasting
Best Practices & Benchmarking

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